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20 Best Movies of 2018

From personal black-and-white explorations of the past to ‘Black Panther,’ Lady Gaga to a biopic of the singer of “Radio Ga-Ga” — Peter Travers’ picks for the best movies of the year

travers top 20 best movies

Clockwise from left: 'Roma,' 'The Favourite,' Green Book' and 'A Star Is Born,' from Peter Travers' 20 Best Movies of 2018.

The best movies of 2018 created their own kind of history. The streaming giant Netflix became a major player in the Oscar race with Roma, proving that the future of film-watching will no longer be defined by its delivery system. Marvel made its strongest impact ever with Black Panther, a celebration of diversity and black power that raised the bar on what a comic-book epic could accomplish. That movie — along with A Star Is Born, Green Book and Widows — helped the studio system make a comeback after years of creative lethargy.

There were also wonders of exploration as First Man blasted off to the moon with Neil Armstrong and Eighth Grade took us inside the head of a 13-year-old girl lost in the digiverse. Harsh truth tangled with sharp humor as Spike Lee took on race in BlackKklansman and Adam McKay took down Dick Chaney in Vice. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse started a new revolution in color-blasting animation and inclusive storytelling. And a documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor, showed us how children’s TV host Mister Rogers, who died 15 years ago, still had lessons to teach a divided nation about civility. Here are the 20 movies that prodded, provoked and entertained to make a difference this year.

5030.03_cropped_upResFred Rogers on the set of his show Mr. Rogers Neighborhood from the film, WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR, a Focus Features release.Credit: Jim Judkis / Focus Features

‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor’

In a contentious year, this easy-does-it documentary about the late Fred Rogers — the TV icon whose show, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, helped children cope with a cynical world — might be just the pep talk our therapists ordered. The box-office success of Morgan Neville’s timely and timeless film (it’s the top-grossing biodoc ever, with over $20 million on the books) was richly deserved. And as headlines about a world gone mad bombard us at every turn, you can’t watch this gentle giant of a film without saluting the man in the cardigan and thinking, “We need you now more than ever.”